Toughie 2385 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2385

Toughie No 2385 by Elgar

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty *****Enjoyment *****

This is Elgar’s 143rd Telegraph Toughie. It won’t take you long to realise that this number, seen 8 times in the puzzle, refers to the three little words that I hope all of you have voiced today. I solved the quadrants neatly in the order NW, NE, SW, and eventually SE which took me a long time to parse after guessing most of the answers.

As always, finding the definitions is half the battle – these are underlined for you in the clues below. The hints and tips are intended to help you unravel the wordplay, but you can always reveal the answers by clicking on the 143 = (1,4,3) enumeration of all 8 of the 8-letter entries in the grid buttons. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    ‘Oil must be refined’ – Panorama reported words of Today (1,4,3)
I LOVE YOU: An anagram (must be refined) of OIL plus a homophone (reported) of a 4-letter word meaning Panorama


5a    Loves having rewritten Act 5 in book (6)
OCTAVO: Two letters that imply the tennis score of love (hence the plural) contain (having) an anagram (rewritten) of ACT plus the Roman numeral for 5

9a    Adult crackers go to bed worth laying on! (1,4,3)
A GOOD BET: The abbreviation for Adult plus an anagram (crackers) of GO TO BED

10a    Loving to all (2,4)
IN TOTO: A 4-letter word meaning loving or excited about plus TO from the clue

12a    In audition, change bird – 15 will be at it one day (5,4)
ALTAR RAIL: A homophone of a word meaning change, plus a bird

13a    Large part of church falling away (5)
LAPSE: The abbreviation for large plus a part of a church

14a    Rather dress stays unopened (1,3)
A BIT: A 5-letter word for dress without the first letter (stays unopened)

16a    Some heat, with one major slice of fortune, reversed kidney stones (7)
CALCULI: A 3-letter abbreviated unit of heat or energy followed by a reversal of the Roman numeral for one plus the first 3 letters (major slice) of a 4-letter word meaning fortune

19a    For which happily quit ale? (7)
TEQUILA: A semi-all-in-one, an anagram (happily) of QUIT ALE

21a    The couple care about backing off (4)
BOTH: A 6-letter word meaning care in which the last two letters that are a reversal (backing) of a short word meaning about are omitted (off)

24a    Motel open? What lovers might do in here? (5)
ELOPE: Hidden (in here?)

25a    Little love being returned in bed, daughter’s instead accepted alternative liaison (5,4)
BLIND DATE: A 3-letter word for little and a 3-letter word for love (as in zero) are reversed (returned) inside (in) the letters for BED, except that the D (daughter) is instead (of appearing at the end) inserted (accepted) in the middle

27a    Go out on a limb about keeping love’s last observations online (6)
WEBLOG: A reversal (about) of GO from the clue plus the cricket abbreviation meaning “out on a limb” contains (keeping) the last letter of love

28a    The game’s up, shelving one fine romance with firm’s Head of Production (1,4,3)
A FAIR COP: A 6-letter word for a romance or fling in which one F (abbreviation for fine) is shelved or omitted, and the abbreviation for firm or company plus the first letter (head ) of Production

29a    see 6d

30a    All but set for rejection, a ‘Yes’ surprisingly on the cards (5)
I DARE SAY: The reversal of the first 4-letters (all but) of a 5-letter set (the type that has music and news and Jeremy Vine) plus an anagram (surprisingly) of A YES


1d    Home – and not home, somehow (2,1,3)
IN A WAY: A 2-letter preposition that means home, plus a 4-letter preposition that means not home

2d    Vows having been given to an orderly I didn’t know about (2,4)
ON OATH: An anagram (orderly) of TO AN around which (about) we have a 2-letter exclamation hat means “I didn’t know”

3d    Is there something in the wine I provided, old chap? (5)
ELDER: I think this is a reference to the tree that is the origin (I provided) of a type of wine

4d    Cook to carve ham (7)
OVERACT: An anagram (cook) of TO CARVE

6d/29a    Drill enacted with passion, enjoying hotel? (9,6)
CANDLELIT DINNER: An all-in-one: An anagram (with passion) of DRILL ENACTED contains (enjoying) a 3-letter hotel

7d     You need to shake Caruso up, for certain (1,4,3)
A COUP SUR: A French expression that is an anagram (You need to shake …) of CARUSO UP

8d     This tuned rendering melodious note? (1,4,3)
O SOLE MIO: An anagram (rendering) of [the song in the answer] + TUNED gives MELODIOUS NOTE



11d    Tops off boldly, little old couple parties together (4)
BLOC: First letters (Tops off …)

15d    Someone will give her another ring just before the match … (5-2-2)
BRIDE-TO-BE: A cryptic definition, nothing to do with a football match …

17d    … and she’ll give him a ring back, maybe – to say this? (1,4,3)
I THEE WED: Continuing in the cryptic vein of the previous clue, words spoken during the match

18d    American given to hum fitting cornerstone – but why? (1,4,3)
A QUOI BON: This French expression comes from the 1-letter abbreviation for American, plus the abbreviation for a foul smell or hum inside (fitting) a 5-letter word for cornerstone that I didn’t know

20d    Priest caught in nudist camp … (4)
ABBE: A 6-letter word meaning caught, as in by the police, without the outer letters (… in nudist camp, i.e., unclothed)

21d    … ‘Pants on!’, instructed lawyer (7)
BRIEFED: Two meanings, a past participle that suggests pants are on, and a verb meaning instructed lawyer

22d    Balls of mashed potato and salsa (6)
DANCES: Two examples of the answer

23d    Character husband needs in the end to work at with intensity (6)
DEEPLY: The name of the character at the end of husband plus a 3-letter word meaning to work at

26d    Bringing up central part of clause more formal (5)
DRIER: Take a 5-letter word meaning clause (usually fine print) and move the middle letter up to the top of the word (Bringing up central part of …)

As well as the all-in-ones, I enjoyed the wonderful “Cook to carve ham” (4d) which I don’t think I have seen before, and the “happily quit ale” (19a), but I most liked the “Balls of mashed potato and salsa” (22d). Which clues were your favourites?

20 comments on “Toughie 2385

  1. On Monday this week, I realised why we had had so many Elgar Toughies recently, as it became obvious that a theme of 143 would definitely apply to many conversational exchanges today (Valentine’s Day). As I said to two of my fellow bloggers via email, I’d bet that a particular 1,4,3 phrase would definitely appear in the crossword and, of course, there it was at 1a

    Thanks to Elgar for the truly wonderful (4.5*/5*) crossword and to Dutch for the blog which I’ll have to read later as Mr CS is waiting car keys in hand for us to go to Homebase (again).

    PS Back now and reading the blog reminded me that my favourite clue was the ‘make you smile triple definition at 22d

  2. A relief to know that I’m not the only one who guessed many of the answers and then managed to parse them. Didn’t quite finish as I needed help from Dutch for some words and phrases which were new to me, 7d,18d,16a, but otherwise very enjoyable. A “doh” moment and clear favourite was 4d.

    Many thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  3. I usually ignore Elgar’s ‘puzzle number themes’ having lost interest around the time that one number was based on a London bus route but, having been alerted by CS that the probable reason for the large number of Elgar’s puzzles recently was so that number 143 could appear on 14th February, I enjoyed this one a great deal.
    I was hoping that Dutch would have a more complete explanation for 3d because I thought I was missing something.
    The clues I liked best were 27a (it took some time for the ‘out on a limb’ to register), 4d, 21d and 23d.
    Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  4. Amazing. I eventually managed to get all of the themed clues, which helped, parsed (or not) a few others after bung ins, beaten by 16a, 22d 23d and 26d.

    And of course, by the two French-ies which I have never heard of, although I did manage to invent a new phrase for a bad lover who only allows his partner to have a starter at their Valentine supper – A soup cur.

    Thanks to Elgar and major thanks and respect to Dutch for explaining everything.

  5. Not the toughest Elgar challenge, but thoroughly enjoyable. Like Gazza, I kind of lost the plot with the numbers thing on the bus route
    Thanks to him and to Dutch (you may want to revisit 6/29a & 20d!)

  6. I reached “a dead end” (1,4,3) after solving 1a.

    I should know better than attempt an Elgar! Far too clever for me.

  7. Well, I managed just over half which for me is incredible. Generally an Elgar beats me after 2 answers, I’ll admit to electronic help for the French expressions. I’d never heard of them – does anyone use them?
    I did like 12a
    I’m so impressed with Dutch. To be able to unravel some of those tortuous clues is nothing short of miraculous!

    1. very kind – i have had the pleasure of blogging elgar’s puzzle for quite a few years now. I will suggest that if you were to try that, you too would rapidly become miraculous

  8. We got off to a great start with 1a, in fact the whole NW corner, and this inspired us to persevere with the rest of the puzzle. With a bit of electronic help with 7d, 8d and 18d we eventually got everything sorted and parsed. We did enjoy it too.
    Thanks Elgar and Dutch.

  9. Like the kiwis I got off to a fast start in the NW corner before slowing down and finally failing on 18d. The answer to 18d did not even show when I used electronic assistance. I had heard of the synonym for cornerstone but just could not recall it from the depths of memory.

    Having had a break from crosswords and then catching up on a pile of print-offs, I found the elgars always drifted to the bottom of the pack. The consequence being I have tackled a lot of elgars in the last week but not in numerical order. Today’s seemed the least angonizingly difficult but was the most enjoyable

    Many thanks to compiler and blogger

  10. That was a real Toughie, but we got there eventually, helped by being in the newly-opened local micro-pub which allowed our minds to freewheel.

    We freely admit that three of the answers were bung-ins and we had to wait for Dutch’s parsing explanations to understand why they were correct. 22d was a clear favourite.

    Thanks to Dutch and Elgar for adding such enjoyment to Valentine’s Day.

    PS doubly pleased because we can’t often finish Elgar’s Friday offerings.

  11. We, too, can’t often finish Elgar’s Friday Toughies so were delighted to manage this one. Yes JB, the French phrases are very current where we live (but that is France). We had completely forgotten that it was the 14th of February so no 6d, 29a for us but that had to be our favourite clue. Thanks to Elgar and Dutch.

  12. Another Elgar mastered – but is that a fair swap for not having dinner with a tall dark handsome man?

  13. Took all weekend to get the last two in 17d and 27a.
    But I wasn’t going to give up so close to completion.
    Loved the inclusion of French expressions.
    Thanks to Elgar for a very enjoyable crossword and to Dutch for all the explanations.

  14. Hard enough tackling Elgar without obscure French to boot. Managed a third of it before giving up. Ah well.

  15. Managed some of this, but stuck on ‘ I take you’ for 17d which threw me for ages! My challenge is completing it without using a dictionary etc. So no chance with French phrases.

  16. Enjoyed working through this with the help of the hints….
    liked 19A ” for which happily quit ale? (7) “

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